Meese Alumni Games celebrate hockey family
The holidays are generally a time to celebrate family, and the New Mexico Amateur Hockey Association’s (NMAHA) Joe Meese Alumni Games celebrate the organization’s hockey family.
The tournament takes place every year on Dec. 26-27 and is named in honor of a former NMAHA player who passed away nearly 10 years ago.
This year’s tournament was played as two games against the University of New Mexico’s American Collegiate Hockey Association squad, with the NMAHA alums winning both contests.
“The spirit of Joe Meese runs through the veins of a lot of local hockey players still willing to skate up and bang heads,” said event organizer Dorothy Elza. “Not only are the (alumni games) fast and exciting, but it’s also a reunion of family and friends.”
Meese and a few hockey teammates decided some years back that the NMAHA’s Midget AA team needed a little bit of mature competition and the event started innocently enough.
“They beat the tar out of the Midgets – both games,” said alumni coach Grant Harvey. “End of discussion – beginning of an annual showdown.”
Now in its 10th year, the tradition carries on, despite the tragic and untimely death of Meese shortly after that first event. Players come out of the woodwork to play – from California to Georgia – everyone likes to play a little hockey when they come home to Albuquerque for Christmas.
Jackie Meese, Joe’s grandmother, is the official greeter at this tournament and she or a member of Joe’s family is always on hand to drop the ceremonial puck at the start of the tournament.
“This event is such a blessing to me and it helps me more than words can express,” said Meese.
The nature of the team makeup had originally been to keep groups that played together. The oldest teams, members of the Red Devils, have remained semi-intact, but some of the players, now approaching the magic 30-year-old mark are thinning out “in hair and in numbers,” quipped Harvey.
“The mix of new and old talent has increased over the years making this a spectacle,” Elza added. “And it’s all full throttle.”
All net proceeds from these games go to support NMAHA youth hockey, in memory of Joe Meese.
– Matt Mackinder